‘That was embarrassing’: Dutch GP director makes promise about ‘Orange Army’

195,000 fans watched Max Verstappen win the Dutch Grand Prix last season.

Sporting director of the Dutch Grand Prix and former Formula 1 driver, Jan Lammers, has assured spectators that there will be no misconduct from Dutch fans this weekend.

Abuse and ugly behaviour around the racetrack have been a key theme of the 2022 season so far, after Max Verstappen received boos from the British fans in Silverstone, while two men ended up in intensive car after a mass brawl broke out.

In Spielberg, there were reports of sexual harassment from drunk fans, as well as homophobia, sexism and racism, which F1 and several drivers openly condemned.

The Hungarian Grand Prix saw veteran photographer, Mark Thompson, get struck in the face by a member of the security team there that weekend, and that, along with the cases that had already been seen, prompted F1 to take more serious action.

READ: ‘That’s how I grew up’: Max Verstappen shares unpopular opinion on sprint races

They launched an initiative, together with the teams and the FIA, encouraging fans to report any and all abuse they witness at a racetrack.

CEO Stefano Domenicali warned that the sport will come down hard on those found to be perpetrating abuse during race weekends.

The incidents this season have given a bad name to Max Verstappen’s ‘orange army’ of loyal supporters, but Lammers is adamant that the behaviour we have seen this season will not be repeated in Zandvoort this weekend.

“I think this year we will prove Austria was an incident only initiated by some individuals,” he told Motorsport.com. 

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“It was maybe just tens of people that just went a bit over the top – group behaviour and all that.

“So I think those particular fans are already so embarrassed they might even stay at home, or they have been set straight by their friends and family. 

“That was embarrassing, and that’s not how we know the ‘Orange Army’.

“During the Olympic Games and soccer, the Orange fans are usually known for their sense of humour, they don’t take themselves too seriously and make a lot of fun. 

“So, I really think the Orange Army will be on their best behaviour, I think they will show what they are really made of. 

“What we saw in Austria, that’s not a real race fan.”

Boos could also be heard for Sir Lewis Hamilton at the Dutch Grand Prix last season, and Lammers discouraged any of that this year too.

“In the past, we’ve had the battle between Lewis and Max and I think we welcome them well here,” he added. 

“Anybody booing anybody, particularly with Lewis, if somebody is booing a seven-time World Champion, you have to wonder yourself what you are made of.

READ: Christian Horner suggests Lewis Hamilton or George Russell could take pole at Dutch GP

“It’s a sporting environment and a sporting family environment, and people should act in a sporting and family way. 

“I often tell it that when our kids go to a party, we tell them ‘make sure  everybody enjoys it’, I think that focus should be the same here – that everybody makes sure everybody enjoys it.”

George Russell topped first practice in Zandvoort on Friday ahead of Mercedes team-mate Hamilton, while Verstappen ended up 19th after suffering a gearbox failure.